The healthcare crisis affecting Punjab is set to spill over into Sindh as the latter’s medical fraternity has threatened to shut the outpatient departments (OPDs) at government-run hospitals in the province for two hours if the doctors arrested in Punjab are not released by Wednesday (today).
The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Sindh, the Sindh Doctors’ Welfare Association (SWDA) and representatives of the Young Doctors Association reached the decision in a meeting on Tuesday.
After deliberating upon the issue, it was unanimously agreed that the doctors of Sindh would express solidarity with their colleagues in Punjab.
It was pointed out that the doctors put forward four demands at a press conference on July 2 and gave an ultimatum of 48 hours. That deadline expires on July 4 at 6pm.
It was decided that if the demands were not met, the doctors in Sindh would initially shut down OPDs for two hours throughout the province.
The participants of the meeting demanded that the Punjab government should order unconditional release of all arrested doctors and immediately reinstate those removed from their jobs.
They also demanded that all “false and fabricated” criminal cases against these doctors be withdrawn. They wanted the Punjab government to sympathetically pay heed to the doctors’ demands.
Referring to the death of at least 11 patients in Punjab linked to the young doctor’s strike, PMA Sindh President Dr Samrina Hashmi told The News that people die in hospitals on a daily basis and a comparison should be made before pointing fingers at medics.
“One patient, whose death is being blamed on the doctors’ strike, was at the last stage of tuberculosis.”
She said the Punjab government had failed to contain state terrorism, but was using its muscle power against doctors.
“The doctors in Punjab went on a strike after three weeks of negotiations and though their demands were accepted, they were not implemented.”
News Desk adds: The Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA) on strongly condemned the use of state force, torture and arrests of young doctors in Punjab, and demanded their immediate release.
In a statement, General Secretary PIMA Centre Dr Sohail Akhtar and President PIMA Karachi Dr Ahmad Salman Ghauri said doctors across Pakistan supported their Punjab colleagues’ demand for the regularisation of their services structure, “which has been overlooked for quite sometimes”.
“We consider the government primarily responsible for this crisis because it delayed the acceptance of the just demands of doctors, and added fuel to the fire by beating and arresting them.”
The PIMA demanded from the government and the protesting doctors to end the crisis by negotiations. The government should accept the doctors’ demands, release those arrested and penalise those involved in torturing the protesting doctors, the statement said.